Posted on Dec 06, 2018, 2 a.m.
The hardest challenge most obese people face while trying to lose weight may be the struggle to stick with healthier plans for diet and exercise. Flinders University scientists suggest that blocking a single gene may promote weight loss without the need for hours at the gym.
According to the scientists after removing the gene RCAN1 from mice and then feeding them unrestricted high fat diets did not result in weight gain, as published in the journal EMBO Reports.
Blocking RCAN1 helps the body to transform unhealthy white fat into calorie burning brown fat, according to Damien Keating, Ph. D. Removing RCAN1 reduces storage of fat in dangerous areas; and causes muscles to burn more calories while at rest.
Several different diets were tested to confirm the benefits of removing RCAN1 across timelines ranging from 8 weeks to 6 months, they report seeing health improvements in the animals in all scenarios.
Flinders scientists are developing drugs targeting proteins made by the RCAN1 gene, and are now testing them to see how effectively they inhibit the gene and whether they can be developed into therapeutics.
Turning white fat into brown fat has inspired a range of innovations. University of Pennsylvania researchers are working on inhibiting the FLCN gene that produces a protein that suppresses the browning of fat to investigate how to turn white fat into brown. Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute suggests increasing signaling among natriuretic peptides in adipose tissue can prevent obesity in mice.
At the moment it may seem like a pipedream to be able to take a pill and lose weight without exercise or dieting, but the findings in mice studies suggest that there might be a novel pathway which might be able to be targeted.
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